Case Western Reserve ranked 32nd among all universities—and 29th among private institutions—in the inaugural edition of The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/THE) rankings released last week.
Despite the abundance of other higher education ratings on everything from value to social impact to campus cuisine, the newspaper’s leaders believed readers would benefit from a list they hadn’t yet seen: one that measured colleges the way that parents and students would.
“[They] want to find a school that offers excellence, fosters intellectual development, provides practical skills and, critically important, positions its graduates to get a good job,” Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker wrote in introducing the newspaper’s effort.
To that end, the WSJ/THE methodology focuses most on outputs—graduation rates, salaries and the like—as well as the quality of the student experience, especially from the students’ point of view. With the print edition’s 1.3 million U.S. circulation and wsj.com’s 20 million readers a month, the new rankings have garnered ample early attention.
“I say it often, but it always bears repeating: No single number, or set of numbers, can begin to convey the complexity of a college or university,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “At the same time, I appreciate the challenges families face in trying to identify the best fit for their children among hundreds of institutions. The more information students and parents can find in concise, accessible forms, the better able they will be to focus on some of their most promising options.”
By the Numbers
The WSJ/THE methodology focused on four broad categories: outcomes (worth 40 points), resources (30 points), engagement (20 points) and environment (10 points). Case Western Reserve scored 80.8 out of 100, placing it just ahead of New York University (80.6) and just behind the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wellesley College (each at 81.1).
Case Western Reserve’s totals by category were:
(graduation rate, salary after 10 years, and debt repayment three years after the repayment period begins, and academic reputation based on a THE survey of leading scholars)
(spending on teaching per student, ratio of students to faculty, number of scholarly research papers published per faculty member)
(THE survey results on engagement with learning, interaction with others, willingness to recommend the school to others, and number of subjects taught)
(proportion of international students, amount of racial and ethnic diversity, inclusion of students with lower family earnings, and diversity of the faculty)
The poorest performance was in environment, reflecting declining trends in Pell Grant recipients and challenges in increasing the numbers of students and faculty from underrepresented groups on campus. While the percentages for the first three categories were fairly close, student engagement proved to be the university’s strongest area.
“It’s gratifying to see solid numbers involving engagement,” Vice President for Student Affairs Lou Stark said, “but we are always looking for more ways to increase the sense of community on campus. Part of those efforts is working to ensure that all students feel fully welcome, and know that we see differences as sources of strength and as opportunities to enhance everyone’s experience and learning.”
In addition to the overall rankings, the WSJ/THE report also ranked institutions within the four specific categories. For example, while Stanford University ranked first overall, fifth-ranked Yale topped the charts in outcomes. In terms of resources, sixth-ranked Harvard led all others, while 419th-ranked Dordt College in Iowa had the highest score for engagement. For environment, 305th-ranked City College of New York was No. 1.
Times Higher Education is a London-based firm that publishes a weekly magazine as well as multiple world university rankings—including lists by academic discipline.